Over three days in June 2022, Film Training Manitoba (FTM) partnered with over 30 organizations to launch Canada’s first Summit for Women in Film Trades (SWIFT). Select partners included the Department for the Status of Women, IATSE 856, and the DGC-MDC.
FTM gathered labour market information in 2021 and noted less than 30 percent of Manitobans working in trades positions in the film industry are women and women-identifying individuals. In an effort to increase the number of women and women-identifying individuals working on film sets, FTM’s SWIFT consisted of industry courses and panels with senior-level executives and managers. SWIFT was the first major conference held at Red River College Polytech’s new Manitou a bi Bii daziigae building.
“FTM is dedicated to supporting the creation of more inclusive workplaces in the film industry, both on and off set, and this annual event is an important stepping stone toward this. Based on the feedback I received from participants, there is no doubt how well-received SWIFT was and that it will have a positive impact on promoting diversity within Manitoba’s film industry,” said Carrie Wilkins, an FTM board member and Chair of SWIFT 2022.
SWIFT was modelled after Manitoba Construction Sector Council (MSCS)’s Women in Trades Conference which was first launched in 2019 and FTM participated with staff in attendance and also hosted a panel session. In addition, the MSCS’s Executive Director Carol Paul also served on FTM’s planning committee with 15 other women professionals.
“Carol Paul and her team at MSCS created the exceptional Women in Trades Conference and FTM benefited greatly from her service on our SWIFT committee and all of the work of our other talented SWIFT committee members that planned our event,” said Adam Smoluk (FTM’s Managing Director).
Day one of SWIFT was targeted for participants who were new to the film industry and required training to get their start. Day two and three targeted current film professionals looking for career advancement and to help lead better working conditions for women in the film industry.
SWIFT started with a smudge and opening prayer from Elder Geraldine Shingoose, providing everyone with the clear and open mindset to begin the first day of the conference. FTM then conducted a full-day course on Set Orientation, Safety Awareness, and Respect in the workplace instructed by Lesley Oswald (Production Manager/Line Producer, Oswald Productions, DGC-MDC) and Angela Wells (Costume Department, IATSE 856) as well as a lunch panel discussion on Career Paths in the Film and Media Industry.
The opening of day two featured Rochelle Squires (the Minister for the Status of Women) who spoke passionately about determination and the importance of leadership from women. Day two and three of SWIFT featured workforce development training and panel discussions on Overcoming Invisible Barriers, Advocating for Yourself and Building Self-Confidence as well as Physical & Mental Health, and Developing Your Work-Life Balance.
SWIFT featured many talented panelists and instructors from across Canada such as Janine Higgins (Western University Continuing Studies), Natasha Tony (Founder, and Principal of Elevate Inclusion Strategies), and Christina Kasperczyk (the VP of ICG 669), Dr. Christine Watson (RRC Polytech Vice-President of Academic), Bev Barnes Stuart (Vice President, Business and Organizational Development at Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology), Jamie Carnegie the Executive Director, Manitoba Status of Women Secretariat at Government of Manitoba, Merit Jensen Carr (CEO of Merit Motion Pictures), Laurenda Madill (Acting Director at Industry Workforce Development Branch) and Manitoba Producer Rhonda Baker.
All of the programs utilized group discussions and activities to brainstorm what is currently needed for a better work environment in the film industry. Some strategic improvements shared at SWIFT included:
- Job sharing to provide more balanced work days.
- Childcare made available for film workers during production.
- Proper human resources “know-how” being more readily available.
- More team-building opportunities within the film industry.
In addition, according to a survey from the SWIFT participants, 100% of the participants agreed or strongly agreed it would improve working conditions in the film industry if leaders, managers, and supervisors received industry-specific workplace training.
“As a member of Manitoba’s Sector Council Program, FTM has a major track record of bringing innovations into the Manitoba film industry and we will be designing new workforce training to support the programming advice from our SWIFT participants,” said Allison Bile (FTM’s Operations and Workforce Development Manager), who program managed SWIFT.
SWIFT was brought to a close with an award presentation to Ellen Rutter, a long-serving film industry professional, in recognition of her outstanding service in championing and supporting women and underrepresented workers to build and grow Manitoba’s dynamic film industry. This award will be an annual event to close SWIFT.
“FTM’s Board of Directors unanimously selected Ellen for this honour. We deeply appreciate her commitment to our industry and support of others, and look forward to her continued leadership and support of FTM’s SWIFT,” said Carrie Wilkins.
FTM’s SWIFT committee will begin planning for the SWIFT 2023 conference later this year.
FTM is a non-for-profit charity and member of the Province of Manitoba’s sector council program through the Department of Economic Development and Jobs. FTM builds a highly skilled and adaptable film industry workforce to support the activities of Manitoba production companies. FTM collaborates with members of the film and television industry to identify the training needs within the community.